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[Publisher] Black Opal Books

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LadyLex

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Hello all! I didn't see a thread here for this publisher. Does anyone have any experience with them?
 

CaoPaux

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Adding link: http://www.blackopalbooks.com/

Although there's nothing on site about who's behind it, the site is registered to a Daniel Kempton of Amethyst Dragon Publishing and the covers are by author O'Neal.

Going by their About page, this looks like a venture by authors disappointed by the unprofessional publisher(s) they chose for their first books. I suggest reading through the excerpts to gauge whether they can do a better job of it on their own
 

Momento Mori

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Black Opal Books Website:
Based in the Pacific Northwest, BLACK OPAL BOOKS was founded by people who thought the publishing industry could do more for both readers and authors. So they formed BLACK OPAL BOOKS and gave it a two-fold mission: produce high-quality, well-edited books for readers, while helping authors achieve their dreams, as well as a higher percentage of royalties.

It would be better if they were paying advances rather than higher royalties. If they're a royalty only paying publisher, then you should check their sales history because there's little point in getting a higher percentage of zero sales.

Black Opal Books Website:
We also understand how disheartening it is, when you finally write the dreaded query letter and send it out to publishers, only to have your book rejected based solely on your query letter by someone who hasn’t read a single word of your book. Or even worse, to not get a response at all. And if you're lucky enough to get accepted and published, to receive royalties of such a small per cent. So at BLACK OPAL BOOKS, we let you send your completed manuscript along with your query letter.

If no one is requesting a partial, then the query letter requires work. It might be a tedious skill to learn, but it's one that can be valuable later on. Besides, a sub-literate query letter is a strong indication that the manuscript won't be worth checking out.

Re sending the complete manuscript - why? If they're only going to commit to reading at least one chapter, then ask people to send in one chapter. That should be enough to know if it's worth asking for more.

Black Opal Books Website:
For those of you we do accept, our royalties start at 45%, for both ebook and print, and go as high as 70%.

This suggests they're offering variable royalty rates to different people. That seems to me to create an unecessary admin burden from their perspective - would be better to just have a flat rate. I'd also want to know how royalties are calculated - i.e. whether they're on net (and if so, how net is calculated) or cover price.

Black Opal Books Website:
To start with, we’re accepting all romance genres, including paranormal and erotic, and also YA. In addition, we’re accepting novels and novellas that aren't romances, but have strong romantic elements, such as women’s fiction, chick lit, etc. So if it has romance in it, or if it’s YA, we want to see it. We are also accepting limited non-fiction.

It's good that they're focusing on one particular fiction genre as it means they can focus their marketing efforts and build a reputation. That said, it would be better if they were focusing on fiction rather than non-fiction, which is a smaller and more fragmented market and will split their marketing efforts.

Black Opal Books Website:
Since in today's market the author's promotion of the book is crucial to its success, please be prepared to give a brief statement about how you will promote the book in your query letter, or your cover letter if your book is non-fiction. If you do not know how to promote your book, but are willing to learn, that is also acceptable. A more detailed author-promotion plan will be needed before the book is release for sale.

This always makes me nervous - particularly when there's nothing on the site to indicate how Black Opal intends to try selling and marketing books. Authors shouldn't be doing promotion on their own, I'd be happier seeing some firm commitments from the publisher and an indication of what that will entail.

I'm a bit confused by their book reviews page - mainly because all the reviews seem to be by Taylor Jones and Regan Murphy. Maybe one of the regular romance writers can tell me who they are - i.e. whether they have respected/popular romance fiction review blogs - because otherwise it just seems to be two random people talking about the publishers' books (which doesn't inspire confidence).

As general observations:

- it looks like they take print and electronic rights. Unless they've got distribution deals in place to stock books in stores, I wouldn't want to give up print rights and I'd want to check where their ebooks are being distributed through.

- no information about who the editors are, who the publishers are or what their qualifications are. That's always a red flag - especially as in this case, they're touting their editing services.

- get information on average sales figures per title - that's always important if you're going with a royalty only publisher.

All in all, I'd wait to see if they're still going in two years time.

MM
 

LadyLex

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Black Opal Books

Hello!

I was wondering if anyone had any experience with this fairly new publisher?

Thanks.
 

LadyLex

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Thanks for the thoughts. You have given me a lot to think about.
 

lovelybone

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Here's a red flag... this publisher does not allow bookstores to return unsold copies.
 

justbishop

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I was getting excited to find another epub that might accept my 21k word YA novella, until the last sentence of the submissions page. Does not inspire faith in the quality of their editing:

"Once your manuscript has been excepted, you will need to, if you have not already, created an account on the Black Opal website."
 

RosalieStanton

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I was getting excited to find another epub that might accept my 21k word YA novella, until the last sentence of the submissions page. Does not inspire faith in the quality of their editing:

"Once your manuscript has been excepted, you will need to, if you have not already, created an account on the Black Opal website."

implied-facepalm-implied-facepalm-demotivational-poster-1259858393.jpg
 

CheG

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I was getting excited to find another epub that might accept my 21k word YA novella, until the last sentence of the submissions page. Does not inspire faith in the quality of their editing:

"Once your manuscript has been excepted, you will need to, if you have not already, created an account on the Black Opal website."

Why is this bad? (not sarcasm- I am sincerely wondering why? It's kind of annoying, but I had to make an account on Daily Science Fiction in order to submit... so I guess I don't see much of a difference.)
 

FluffBunny

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Why is this bad? (not sarcasm- I am sincerely wondering why? It's kind of annoying, but I had to make an account on Daily Science Fiction in order to submit... so I guess I don't see much of a difference.)

It's this part:

Once your manuscript has been excepted, you will need to, if you have not already, created an account on the Black Opal website."

(bolding added) It would be nice if someone were going to publish and edit your book knew the difference between "excepted" and "accepted". :)
 
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Why is this bad? (not sarcasm- I am sincerely wondering why? It's kind of annoying, but I had to make an account on Daily Science Fiction in order to submit... so I guess I don't see much of a difference.)

"Once your manuscript has been excepted accepted, you will need to, if you have not already, created an account on the Black Opal website, if you have not already."
 

AlyssaCroft

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The website as a whole is poorly edited, and I can't find any noteworthy accomplishments. There's nothing about the folk behind the company (the links that supposedly lead to bios about the "board of directors" actually redirect to the homepage), and nothing about who works on the books (editors, cover designers, marketing, etc). The cover designs are awful- do they do the covers themselves or do they leave that to the authors to outsource? What do they actually DO for authors, besides take a chunk out of your royalties? I have no idea.
 

FluffBunny

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"The Review Team of Taylor Jones & Regan Murphy" seem to be responsible for the reviews on the site. I'm unable to find any reviews they've done of books other than Black Opal books. I'm also unable to find a book that received under 4 stars in a review.

I tried doing some searching on their Board of Directors (as pointed out above, the internal page links are far from functional. My Google-fu may be letting me down, but S.K. Humpreys, Leonora Jackson (other than the violinist) and D.S. Kempton have no web presence at all.

Referring back to CaoPaux's post back in 2011:

Although there's nothing on site about who's behind it, the site is registered to a Daniel Kempton of Amethyst Dragon Publishing and the covers are by author O'Neal.

They've removed any/all names from their domain registration, having Black Opal Books as their only info--no address, no nada. They also seem to have a precious/semi-precious stone fixation. Black Opal Books, formerly attached to Amethyst Dragon Publishing and their current technical contact on the Whois is Sapphire Dragon Internet Solutions. Sapphire Dragon is also owned by Daniel Kempton and based in Albany, OR. An Oregon business entity search shows that Black Opal is registered in Oregon. The registered agent for the company is, once again, Amethyst Dragon Publishing. The president is listed as a Daniel Stewart and the secretary is Michelle Horton, neither of whom are listed on the Black Opal site. A business search on Amethyst Dragon Publishing lists the same two people, Stewart and Horton, occupying the same positions as they hold with Black Opal.

On a purely personal note, I find their cover designs less than compelling.
 

Inkblot19

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I am a recent author of Black Opal Books. And let me state, without reservations, they are a highly professional independent publishing house. What they promise, they deliver. I had problems with an unprofessional small publisher and they understood what authors sometimes go through. They accept few manuscripts a year. They provide a double edit, and believe me these editors know their business. I had much to learn. Their cover designer is excellent. It was his creativity that is on the cover. Since my son is a professional artist, and he offered to help, Jack worked with him, and I believe I have a lovely cover. If you just want to criticize, then go ahead. But this is one fine publisher who charges no fees. As for the reviewers. although they loved my book, I wasn't absolutely thrilled with their reviews. But they do work independently, not like the phony reviewers at the big houses.

S. B. Redstone
A Sinister Obsession
http://www.sbredstoneauthor.wordpress.com
 

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A Google search of the title reveals a ton of references to a similarly-named game, but of the book itself? Zilch, nada, zip.

Were I this author, with a novel making zero footprint three days before launch, I'd be raising unshirted hell with the publisher.

But then, that's just me.

ETA: there are two reviews on the author's website, one of which is listed as an Amazon review ... but it's not on Amazon. How does that work? I'd genuinely like to know, as maybe I'm missing something.
 
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Marian Perera

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Were I this author, with a novel making zero footprint three days before launch, I'd be raising unshirted hell with the publisher.

But then, that's just me.

No, that's me as well. I'd have buy links on my website and blog too... if my publisher was actually providing the book for sale, that is.
 

AdrianLynn

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ETA: there are two reviews on the author's website, one of which is listed as an Amazon review ... but it's not on Amazon. How does that work? I'd genuinely like to know, as maybe I'm missing something.

That would be because they're reviews for a different book by a different author, published on January 31, 2012 by Cambridge Books.

Compare this review posted on the author's website:

"If you’re out of coffee and need something to wake you up, just read the first chapter of this book. ... a serial killer akin to Jaws and Norman Bates rolled together check out 'A Sinister Obsession'."

To this review on Amazon:

"If you're out of coffee and need something to wake you up, just read the first chapter of this book. ... a serial killer akin to Jaws and Norman Bates rolled together check out 'The Mistake'."

Looks incredibly similar. Actually, the reviews are same word-for-word except for the title, I just edited it down because I wasn't sure if it would be kosher to post both reviews in full. The second review on S.B. Redstone's website is the same as the second review for "The Mistake" as well. My guess is this is someone trying to republish an already published book under a different pen name. Better that than outright plagiarism. No, it's definitely the case of a new pen name and new book title. I just looked at the author's post history and it was pretty obvious. I hope she/he ended up being honest and did disclose the book's history to Black Opal.
 
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LindaJeanne

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Inkblot19

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I'm happy that I've generated some interest in myself and Black Opal Books. To address your concerns and for me, I'll clarify. I was Bruce Castle, and my novel was The Mistake. When I terminated my previous publisher last year who not only did not live up to meticulous editing, but had many other issues detrimental to my work, I found that I couldn't get Amazon to remove the book, even though I held the copy write. To avoid confusion, I became S. B. Redstone and the name of the novel is A Sinister Obsession. It is exactly the same as The Mistake, but with a double professional edit now. When I queried Black Opal Books, I did in fact tell them what happened to me. They saw great value in my work and felt sorry for me as well. They have lived up to all their promises and if you're expecting perfect in this world, it doesn't happen. The reviews on my website and on Amazon are for the same book as I just said, just a different title. I was fortunate to receive excellent reviews despite the grammatical errors of The Mistake. There is no deception. I am in contact with the two Amazon reviewers to have them put their reviews for the new title. I am now preparing for extensive marketing. It is a daunting task. I hope one of you will read my novel. It is good.

Steve
 

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